Preserving the real places and the real stories of Texas.

Real Places 2019: Preservation In Gentrifying Communities

Breakout 5A

Day/Time: Friday, January 18, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
Location: Capitol Salon FGH, 3rd Floor
Speakers: Assata Richards, Sankofa Research Institute; Megan Henderson, City Center Waco; and Claudia Guerra, San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation

Established ethnic communities in Houston, San Antonio, Waco, and cities across the country are facing displacement as development pressures from successful economic revitalization efforts take effect. As important as physical preservation is, the cultural heritage of these neighborhoods should also be preserved and cultivated as part of a holistic approach to evolving into a sustainable neighborhood for both existing and new residents. Participants will learn how tools such as land trusts, developer sensitivity training, and cultural conservancy can help ensure the benefits of economic revitalization strengthen an existing community instead of merely supplanting it with a new one.

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) members can earn Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for this activity (or many activities at this event). When CM credits are available, they are noted at the end of an activity description. More information about AICP’s CM program can be found at

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Members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) can earn continuing education credits for this activity (or many activities at this event). Texas Society of Architects (TxA) is the provider of record. When Learning Units (LU) and health, safety, and welfare (HSW) credits are available for AIA-approved courses, they are noted at the end of an activity description. More information about AIA’s continuing education program can be found at and



Assata Richards is founding director of the Sankofa Research Institute (SRI), a nonprofit that works collaboratively with academic researchers, community organizations, and funders to generate empirical evidence to build community and inform social change. Current and past SRI project partners include Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Dance Source Houston, Project Row Houses, St. Anne Catholic Church, and CHRISTUS Health Foundation. Richards has a master’s and doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University, as well as a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston. After serving on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to Houston to work with Project Row Houses. She is also an adjunct professor in the sociology department and arts leadership program at the University of Houston. Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Richards to chair the Housing Transition Committee in 2016. She also chairs the Emancipation Economic Development Council and the newly formed Houston Community Land Trust.


Megan Henderson is executive director of City Center Waco, which accelerates and steers development and collaboration in downtown Waco and surrounding neighborhoods. She formerly served as director of regional services for the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, city manager of Rosebud, and Main Street project manager in Marlin. In these roles, Henderson focused on strengthening communities, with an emphasis on community and economic development, infrastructure and capital improvements planning, grantsmanship, and finance. She is a certified public manager and certified economic developer, and has served on advisory committees for the Texas Department of Rural Affairs and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.


Claudia Guerra is San Antonio’s first cultural historian, a position in the Office of Historic Preservation that engages the community in identifying places of cultural significance. The position is dedicated to fostering the next generation of heritage stewards, as well as including the voices of people who feel disenfranchised. In this role, Guerra has been conducting oral histories and cultural mapping as part of an initiative for the recent inscribing of the San Antonio Missions as World Heritage Sites. Using principles from international perspectives on heritage, her goal is to expand our understanding of cultural heritage in order to develop holistic policies that perpetuate tangible and intangible resources. Guerra previously worked for the Center for Cultural Sustainability at the University of Texas at San Antonio.